Turkish authorities arrest 30 in protests against gov’t attempt to hijack Van elections

Between April 2 and 3, Turkish authorities detained 260 people and arrested 30 of them, including two children, during protests against the government’s attempt to hijack the mayoral elections in the eastern Van province, won by the pro-Kurdish DEM Party.

The authorities arrest Muhammed Orhan (18), who went viral with a smiling face in a photo taken during his detention. (Photo: Adnan Bilen)

Duvar English

Turkish courts have arrested 30 people who participated in the protests against the local electoral board’s refusal to give the mayoral mandate to the elected co-mayor of Van Metropolitan Municipality, Abdullah Zeydan, from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party.

Authorities detained 260 people in different provinces where protests continued for two days on April 2 and 3, both during demonstrations and house raids, according to the Mesopotamia Agency (MA).

At the Van Security Directorate, statements were taken from detainees, following which 30 individuals, including two minors, were brought before the Penal Court of Peace. They faced charges of "membership in an illegal organization" and "participation in demonstrations on behalf of an illegal organization," resulting in the arrest of all 30 individuals.

Some 15 of 260 detainees were minors and 10 of them were lawyers. 

On April 4, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, on the other hand, announced that the authorities detained 340 people in 14 provinces during protests.

What happened?

On April 2, the Van province's election board decided that the candidate of Justice and Development Party (AKP), the second-place finisher who took 27.2 percent of the votes in the city, should be handed the Van mayorship due to a legal issue with Zeydan's candidacy.

Zeydan won the Van metropolitan municipality with co-candidate Neslihan Şedal by an overwhelming 55.48 percent of the votes.

The move reminded Kurds the appointment of trustee mayors by Ankara to replace HDP mayors after the 2019 local elections.

Thousands of people had protested against the government's efforts to hijack elections in Van despite severe police attacks with tear gas and water cannons.

The Supreme Election Council (YSK) on April 3 overturned the decision and declared Zeydan as Van Mayor. Zeydan and Şedal on April 5 received their official license.